Advice From The Community

Read answers to top ERP questions. 430,988 professionals have gotten help from our community of experts.
What is the difference between ERP and BPMS Tools? On which elements can we rely to decide if we used an ERP (Like Odoo) or a BPMS tool (e.g. Camunda, BONITA) to develop an application? Thank you for your response.
author avatarArt Hebbeler, PMP

This is great question, and one that is rarely asked and even more rarely understood. ERP and BPM are two very different things, although there are some common elements.Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a type of software that provides users access to a suite of applications. These modules are built with major business functions in mind, such as human resources, accounting, inventory management and others. The core feature of an ERP system is its ability to store and pull data from a common database, allowing for a single source of truth.
For Business Process Management (BPM) software, it’s helpful to understand BPM as a discipline. BPM is comprised of the strategies and techniques used to understand, improve and automate business processes. BPM sees processes as resources in themselves and seeks to improve them.
Enterprise BPM software, therefore, works to organize, manage and automate an organization’s business processes. This system achieves this by providing users with a process modelling tool to design and edit workflows. Process modelling allows users to include process descriptions to inform the audience with exactly what happens during the process.
Many companies and practitioners suggest that business digital transformation can be done by taking an ERP and manipulating its applications with custom code to match the business processes, or force the business to change processes to fit the software. That can be as big a challenge, or even bigger, than designing a system from the ground up. ERP are very good at managing and data views. BPM are good at process definition and application development (if coupled with an application development tool like Bizagi, Appian, Bonita, et al), but need additional tools (BI, for instance) to provide detailed insight. 
Long answer to say they are both different tools in your digital transformation process, and can be complementary to one another.

author avatarBPMexp67
Real User

In my opinion, that is the main difference.
ERP offers a standard commercial application in different areas, such as financial, commercial, production, inventory management, etc., depending on the ERP modules and the company's needs.
BPMS offers a development platform more oriented to business flows, being certain that there are some BPMS in the market that allow the development of business modules that ERP also offers.
The ideal solution should combine the two, use BPMS as a management layer for business flows and, in each workflow activity, invoke the module or functionality that ERP can provide.
The advantage of having a process management layer independent of the business functionalities is the dynamics and easier adaptation to the changes required by the business, while the business flows incorporated in the ERP itself make these adaptations much heavier, generally hard-coded, in addition to additional costs whenever a new version is implemented.
From a business perspective, a combination of two solutions allows to create the foundations so that the company remains more easily competitive, through process management, more efficient and more visionary, while the implementation of just an ERP is a kind of marriage for life, creating many difficulties of divorce even when the marriage no longer works.

author avatarAlan Zimmerman

I agree with Art's answer. ERP systems are more about managing and tying-together the data, as opposed to executing a process per se. BPM (now often called Digital Process Automation--DPA--just to add to the confusion) is all about defining and executing the process. If you have a help desk process or product fulfillment request, you wouldn't do those in an ERP. You'd do those in a BPM/DPA system. The data from those systems may well get sent to the ERP for tracking and analysis. I hope this helps.

author avatarGene Hammons, MBA
Real User

So ERP is transactional software. A Purchase Order(PO) is issued, a widget is sold on a Sales Order(SO), incoming raw materials are received - each transaction is recorded at the point of activity, purchasing issues the PO, Sales enters the SO, the receiving dock scans in shipments and indicates where' they're put away. 
ERP follows the business process but does not normally dictate it. 
BPM is a tool to design, streamline, measure, and create business processes. You might use BPM software to design how you wanted your business processes to work and how the ERP would interact at key areas to capture the actual flow. 
Oddo is an open source ERP, which lets you construct your own ERP. Most companies do cost analysis to determine how much ERP will save in efficiencies or enhance in revenues, and given the impact can be significant, building out an Oddo instance for a year or two is huge money wasted down the drain. Of course if you have no idea how much ERP can benefit your organization, no one really notices hidden costs piling up. Plus when you finish an Oddo implementation, you have a really nice v1.0 design come to life, while everyone else is using v18 with 20 years of live experience, input from hundreds of customers, and hundreds of thousands of man-days development behind the product. 
You might want to look at naologic - they're doing an Oddo sized ERP that I think is a big improvement - but I've not put any clients on it yet. More tips on selecting ERP at if you are interested. 

Anonymous User
I work for a mid-sized AEC company. We currently use an older version of BST Enterprise. Which ERP systems do you recommend that would be the most compatible? Thanks! I appreciate the help.
author avatarRamon Lipparoni

I assume when you state AEC, you are meaning engineering company. BST is a well-positioned ERP application, and I assume you are currently using an on-prem built solution. There are a few factors you will need to address before you simply move to a new ERP application, Size of the company (you mentioned mid-sized 150 users + I assume), how much custom dev do you currently have and are you looking to replace these with an end to end solution? Your budget is vital, are you looking at a cloud-hosted solution? How many modules are you wanting to deploy and so on? These are the primary questions you need to answer

When you look at things like 365 Business Central and Finance & Supply chain from Microsoft you need to factor in the licensing costs. Microsoft has built a new model around a per user/per month which is making life difficult due to the amazingly huge layout per year for some of their solutions. The implementation cycle is a slimmer option against something like SAP 4 Hana for instance, but these are factors that will always influence the change from one ERP system to another. We are seeing newer players entering the market now, SAGE has a big drive factor for their new ERP platform but it's still young and the verticals are limited at this stage, Syspro was a great offering as well, however, their verticals, like Sage are limited at this time, but are very capable.

So if I was going to recommend a viable option, I would suggest you set out what your current spending is and what it is that you can afford. Look at your road map for the next 18/24 months and add a 3 and 5-year option and see what it is you are going to need over that time. Cloud is the only viable solution as most of the bigger houses will be pushing companies in that direction in the next 3 years. Break down what the core of your business needs are and then choose the application that fits that mold with a bit of adjustment where needed.

I am a great fan of Dynamics 365 F&O/F&SCM and for a smaller environment of say, less than 150 users, Business central is always a great idea, it carries good weight in the current market and is a modular application. You can implement some of the standard offerings as stand-alone options and you can go big and go end to end if you wish. D365 F&O financials is a great ERP platform to build off and as you get more comfortable you can add more areas in that way costs are used on a consumption base rather than all-out purchase. But hey this is my opinion the rest of responders here have great options as well

author avatarcommerci931584 (Commercial Cost Accountant ( Interim) at a security firm with 1,001-5,000 employees)
Real User

AEC businesses cover several different sectors with specific requirements, and covering all of them will increase project complexity. So they need to work their budget, which parts are you going to include, and their level of expertise in system implementation.

The big choice is between:
A. A generic cross-sector ERP, with bolt ones for sector-specific requirements (My old BPO company used Microsoft Dynamics AX). But I’ve also seen JD Edwards / Oracle and Open accounts Orchard + in Housing Sector.
B. A sector-specific ERP (which may not be quite so good on the ERP side) e.g. Total Synergy.

Suggest if your client is asking you, then he needs some professional help in the whole process from the project scope, selection, and implementation. Picking the right professional help (as opposed to someone who has expertise in one ERP system) is key.

Some links below

author avatarHatem Mohamed Nageeb Salama

As for me, I don't recommend your selection be based on product size, maybe your company is a mid-sized company (Revenue perspective) but in the processes, it's small or medium or large or ultra-large, so basically if you can share a glimpse of the processes it would be good and it will narrow your selections to a specific tier of products *BTW maybe I can tell you a specific product that I can manipulate to transform your business but this is just me I cannot assume all guys can do so. Like SAP products (SAP B1 - ByDesign - S4HANA) with standard modules, no hidden costs and the pricing is well known in the market you can get it from 50K+ USD to ## millions USD based on the processes and industry.

author avatarAlvaro Correia Junior

Check Microsoft Dynamics. It is a good option for mid-size companies and has a good position in your industry. Its integration with other Microsoft products like Office and Project is a plus. If you really need some features not present in the core ERP, there is also an ISV ecosystem, companies who build solutions on top or well connected to the ERP. If you still have some specific needs to differentiate your business beyond the ISV offers, you can build it, on loosely-coupled complementary developments, usually with less effort and cost compared to other similar-sized and bigger ERPs. I do not know all the ERPs but be aware that these developments sometimes are not possible in other smaller options, could make you dependent on the vendor or their partners to evolve, or become a nightmare when you need to upgrade to newer versions.

The weakness of Dynamics and other mid-size and small solutions might be the implementation partner ecosystem, depending on the country (ies) you operate. Take this into account as well. You don't want to do it by yourself and the software company is usually focused on developing and selling the software, not on services.

Business and IT needs to be united in this journey since the beginning and create a joint list of requirements as the base of your comparison. Price is an important criteria, but not the number one, or you better wait until you can secure the budget to really make an affordable good choice for your business objectives. And if you are still unsure, get independent advice, not linked to any ERP-vendor, from an expert you trust or hire one for the selection job, which should take weeks not months. And do not get trapped in promises like "the next version will have that".

author avatarSally Schilling

Oracle's NetSuite 100% Cloud Platform. Ideal for 20+ Employees. Real-Time Data. Types: Accounting Verticals, Cloud ERP Software, Cloud Financials, Ecommerce Solutions.

author avatarHusin Kurnia

Besides NetSuite and Dynamics Nav, you may also consider SAP Business One for a mid-sized company. This depends on your company's requirements, each ERP has its strength on certain business processes.

author avatarMohan-S
Real User

Of late, Dynamics 365 is proving to be reliable and cost-effective for many of the mid-sized companies. I have seen more and more mid-sized companies are embracing this with confidence. I would not suggest Dynamics AX, Dynamics NAV or Dynamics GP as they have a history/baggage with them carried over from the original products that they emerged from. If you can afford the new SAP HANA from SAP or M3 from Infor (the resource cost for support or any other related work can be expensive) they are fantastic. SAP HANA or M3 in the cloud will not let you customize/enhance though! You have to opt for the on-premise for that and it will cost quite a bit Of the Cloud-based solutions, Dynamics 365 is more flexible and the learning curve is shorter.

author avatarCarlos Cardona

For a mid-sized company, you can evaluate Infor CSI. The advantage of this product is the out of the box customization tools.

See more ERP questions »

What is ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is the cohesive management of various central business practices engaged in a myriad of data management categories, such as finance, product and production planning, marketing and sales, manufacturing and materials and inventory management. A company depends on its data through IT and DevOps who are tasked with vital IT capital expenditure investments. IT key opinion leaders rely on ERPs to collect, store and interpret business data. Of course, security is essential and compliance is always an overriding factor.

Users of ERP solutions utilize integrated application management in their tasks of constantly updating and tracking data. ERPs enable the flow of information among all business departments and manage connections to vendors and business partners, for which users have a consistent need.

Enterprise system software is part of a multibillion-dollar industry producing components that support a variety of business functions. IT professional are proponents of ERP's because the products are flexible and known for ease of use. IT and DevOps professionals need the ERP to map and adapt within the company business model, and any ongoing IT changes. ERPs must meet requirements to connect to third party tools - especially BI. IT Central Station IT Professionals express that ERPs must have agile reporting and responsive analytics and decision support.

One IT Central Station member explained, “Supplier capable, supplier with methodology of implementation, user-friendly, integration, training, human resources and key users, infrastructure, gaps, support, migration, adherence to the company business, support for BI tools, good level of problem solving and updates, adherence to current tax regulations and changes. As a programmer, the biggest mistake that I find in projects is the lack of estimates of business gaps, confusing processes and project management.”

Find out what your peers are saying about Oracle, SAP, IFS and others in ERP. Updated: July 2020.
430,988 professionals have used our research since 2012.